7 days
Duration
Destination
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Odyssey Summer School Map Blue Mountains

Travellers should familiarise themselves with our Peace of mind travel policy for Covid-19 as well as the terms and conditions applicable at the time of booking.

Convicts and Colonials in NSW

In 2021 Odyssey is offering a week long course on the early years of white settlement in NSW at our Summer School in the Blue Mountains.

Each day we’ll begin with a discussion of some aspect of the subject and then take an excursion to a local (or relatively local) place of colonial interest. The subject is vast and, obviously, impossible to cover in just one week. This course will, however, serve to whet the appetite for further study, and will also provide the opportunity for an interest filled week in pleasant surroundings with congenial company.

This course should appeal to seniors with an interest in the history of white settlement in Australia, but with a rather shaky memory of primary school lessons. Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson crossed the Blue Mountains in 1813 and Edward Hargreaves discovered gold in Bathurst in 1850. We were drilled with these facts. But, how far did the explorers actually get, and what about Willian Tipple Smith who discovered gold three years before Hargreaves? Conflicts with the indigenous population were hardly mentioned, and it seemed that all convicts were sent out for stealing a loaf of bread.

This week long course aims to look at just who the convicts were and why the settlement was established in the first place. It will spend some time looking at the early conflicts with the locals and at the lives of some of the convicts. It will also examine the stories of a few of the first settlers (both men and women) and the difficulties they faced, as well as the success (or failure) they had. Because we’ll be based in Katoomba, we’ll be able to leave the classroom each day and visit some of the places associated with early white settlement. We’ll be close enough to Parramatta, Richmond and BathurstParramatta, Richmond and Bathurst  to visit each of these places. It may surprise some of you to discover the rich array of colonial buildings available for us to explore.

Top Five Experiences.

  • Discover the truth about the convicts, well, some of them anyway.
  • Visit Elizabeth Farm near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.
  • Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.
  • Wander through what remains of Hartley Historic Village, just west of the mountains, with its 17 buildings of historic interest.
  • Find out just why wagon loads of young Irish girls took the long journey to Bathurst.

Summer School classes for mature and senior travellers

Odyssey offers a collection of week-long learning programs offered each January in Hobart, Tasmania. Our 2021 classes will be held in Leura, Blue Mountains, NSW (due to Covid-19 border restrictions). Courses are refreshed for each year’s programs. Classes are limited to 15 people.

Over the last twenty-five years, Odyssey’s small group Summer School Program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we prepare and offer fun and challenging special interest courses and programs designed to give travellers the options and opportunity to learn about history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics. These courses are designed in such a way that enthusiasts can deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings on a subject.

These programs offered are tailor-made for mature-aged and senior travellers who are eager to explore in-depth a particular topic. Summer school learning programs for mature and senior travellers who are and remain curious about the world. Read more about our philosophy of the Odyssey Summer Schools.

Frequently Asked Questions About Odyssey Traveller Summer School

Odyssey Traveller’s small group Summer School program has given countless travellers an unforgettable educational and travel experience. Each summer, we offer numerous special interest courses and programs. Courses are designed for senior travellers who are eager to deepen their knowledge of a particular topic or be initiated into new understandings of a particular subject. Often these courses underpin our European small groups tours for seniors that are offered each year. We focus on history, religion, Australian culture, and the arts, among many other topics.

Summer School lecturers and instructors are current or retired university lecturers or experts with a particular passion for teaching their chosen subject. Many of our lecturers have extensive teaching experience, and are gifted educators with the ability to adapt material based on the group’s needs. Many of them have taught with us for several years. They have fine-tuned their courses to allow for deep engagement on the part of participants.

Our teaching rooms are located at the Fairmont resort in Leura. This location enables us to screen relevant documentaries and films, and to maintain engaging teaching environments.

Summer School programs are designed to encourage participation. Expect regular discussions and tutorial exercises, as well as various group activities. The majority of our courses also feature memorable educational excursions, which take full advantage of all that the Blue Mountains have to offer. Other programs feature outings and excursions to sites of cultural significance, in order to blend classroom learning with more interactive and hands-on educational experiences.


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Overview: WE meet this afternoon, there is a welcome dinner this evening.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura

Overview:

This week long course aims to look at just who the convicts were and why the settlement was established in the first place. Today we are classroom based. We  spend some time looking at the early conflicts with the locals and at the lives of some of the convicts. It will also examine the stories of a few of the first settlers (both men and women) and the difficulties they faced, as well as the success (or failure) they had. 

The program sets the scene for the excursions for the rest of the week.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel. Leura

Overview: Day trip to Parramatta.

Visit Elizabeth Farm  ( & Belgenny Farm)  near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.

This restful homestead hides a dark and stormy past. Built for the young military couple John and Elizabeth Macarthur and their growing family, Elizabeth Farm has witnessed major events in the growth of the colony, from the toppling of governors and convict rebellion to the birth of the Australian wool industry. As the original cottage was transformed into a fine colonial bungalow, the family’s life was equally gripped with turmoil and drama. Today, set within a re-created 1830s garden, Elizabeth Farm is an ‘access all areas’ museum. There are no barriers, locked doors or delicate furnishings. Australia’s oldest homestead is now our most immersive ‘living’ house museum.

Born Elizabeth Veale in 1766 in Devon, England, she married John Macarthur in 1788. Elizabeth weathered the political storms that raged around her husband for most of his life. They had nine children, seven of whom survived past infancy, three girls (Elizabeth, Mary, Emmeline) and four boys (Edward, John, James, William).

At their home, Elizabeth Farm at Rosehill, Elizabeth created a calm family life away from her husband’s political spotlight. During John’s absence in England from 1809 to 1817, she managed their farms at Rosehill, Seven Hills and Camden with their nephew Hannibal Macarthur. Elizabeth played a pivotal role in developing the Camden estate as a Merino stud and wool export enterprise.

Elizabeth had great faith in the colony and escaped the criticism often levelled at her husband. She managed the family estates with energy and a zest for outdoor activity which required travel from property to property. Elizabeth conducted herself with grace and dignity, forming close long-term friendships with several high ranking colonial women including Anna King (wife of Governor King) and Elizabeth Paterson (wife of Lieutenant-Governor Paterson).

We spend time visiting both places today.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura

Overview: Day trip to Richmond & Mt Wilson.

Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.

Mount Wilson is described as  a very upper class retreat where cafes and gift shops do not prosper and people who love cold winters and beautiful gardens come to relive a lifestyle more in keeping with 19th century British colonialism than contemporary Australian society.

A walk through the village and be amazed at how different it is, not only from the rest of the Blue Mountains but from the rest of Australia.

Between 1912 and 1937 Patrick White’s parents lived at Withycombe in Mt Wilson (it is a private home on the corner of The Avenue and Church Avenue). In Flaws in the Glass, White described Mount Wilson poetically as ‘gullies crackling with smoky silence, rocks threatening to explode, pools so cold that the breath was cut off inside your ribs as you hung suspended like the corpse of a pale frog.’

Whilst in Mt Wilson we will try to include a tour of the Turkish Bath Museum. Located in the grounds of the Wynstay Estate then known as Yarrawa, the property was the first to be established in Mt Wilson in 1875.

The Turkish Bath is excellent example of late Victorian architecture with polychrome brickwork and Italianate details.

Built by Richard Wynne; first Mayor of Burwood NSW and the benefactor of the Wynne Art Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. Wynne was an assisted migrant from Dublin in 1842 and is described on the ship’s manifest as a bricklayer–according to family tradition Wynne himself made the dark red bricks in the building from local clay.

It’s thought that he built the Turkish bathhouse in the 1880s for his wife Mary Ann for therapeutic reasons rather than religious ones.

We return to Leura in the afternoon.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura

Overview: Day trip to Bathurst  for the history of the colonial settler and to Hartley Historic village.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura

Overview: Classroom session. Reflecting on what has been seen and discussed this week. The influences on contemporary Australian society.

Farwell meal this evening.

Accommodation: Fairmont Hotel, Leura

Overview: The tour will end after breakfast.

1
Discover the truth about the convicts, well, some of them anyway.
2
Visit Elizabeth Farm near Parramatta to see where Elizabeth Macarthur lived and worked.
3
Drive Bells Line of Road from Windsor and be surprised by the existence of a 19th century Turkish Bath House at Mount Wilson.
4
Wander through what remains of Hartley Historic Village, just west of the mountains, with its 17 buildings of historic interest.
5
Find out just why wagon loads of young Irish girls took the long journey to Bathurst.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 6 nights in full en suite accommodation
  • 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners.
  • Three field trips
  • Lectures and handouts as indicated.
  • Services of a study leader and lecturers.
  • Complimentary wifi.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Costs of a personal nature.
Blue Mountains with Odyssey Traveller
Blue Mountains with Odyssey Traveller